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Information

The relation between music and literature is undeniable. In La peste, Spanish composer Roberto Gerhard was inspired to reveal the anxiety in Albert Camus’s novel and write a deep and perturbing opera which will premiere at the Teatro Real in a new production. French literature was also the basis which inspired Benjamin Britten to compose Les illuminations from the poems of Arthur Rimbaud, which will be interpreted here by tenor Toby Spence, recently applauded in Billy Budd at the Teatro Real. This song cycle is a prologue to Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem which completes a reflection about human nature and its very existence.

Essentials

Oratorio for narrator, chorus and orchestra

Music and libretto by Roberto Gerhard (1896-1970), after the eponymous novel (1947) by Albert Camus

Premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London on 1 April 1964

PROLOGUE
Sinfonia da Requiem
Music by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
Premiered at the Carnegie Hall of New York on 29 March 1941

Les illuminations
Cycle of songs for voice and strings
Music by Benjamin Britten, with texts from the eponymous work (1886) by Arthur Rimbaud
Premiered at the Aeolian Hall in London on 30 January 1940

Premiere at the Teatro Real

New production by the Teatro Real

Principal Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Real

(Coro Intermezzo / Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid)
 

Starting Point

La peste –one of the indispensable works of 20th Century literature– puts forward a disturbing allegory of a dehumanized world which finds itself submitted to a fatal plague. Written in the echoes of the Second World War, still audible in the background, the story avoids the search for solutions to the epidemic, to focus instead on the ease with which people become accustomed to living with the plague, internalizing it as if nothing had happened. Close collaboration with Roberto Gerhard would lead to a sort of Greek tragedy with a narrator and chorus, a dark cantata which emphasizes even more how disturbing the story is.

La peste will follow the Sinfonia da Requiem, the most ambitious exclusively orchestral work of a composer who at that time was the young Benjamin Britten. At the same time, his was the cycle of songs Les illuminations, which he would begin to compose in London and would finish in his exile in the United States; likewise, Gerhard was also exiled after fleeing Great Britain at the end of the Civil War. The music of both of these musicians offers us the opportunity to think about the nature of mankind and the very sense of existence.

Production Team & Cast

  • Musical director: Juanjo Mena
  • Artistic concept and stage design: Dora García
  • Assistant director: Justin Way
  • Chorus Master: Andrés Máspero
· - ·
  • Tenor: Toby Spence

Performance Dates

  • 15 JUN (S) 20:00h
    Turn G
  • 16 JUN (S) 18:00h
    Turn C
  • 17 JUN (M) 20:00h
    Turn A
  • Place: Main Auditorium